Over the holidays I had the privilege of being a part of a very momentous occasion: my grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary Gift . Celebrating 50 years of love, triumph, children, tears, and joy was such an overwhelmingly wonderful feeling, and one that I hope all of you can experience in either your own milestone anniversary, or through the celebration of others’.
For the occasion our family all chipped in and threw a party with 120+ guests (a couple meets many friends and acquaintances over 50 years of marriage!) We basically threw a second wedding, complete with a DJ, mini-bar, food and slide show. We did not set an overall budget; however, each of us found very effective ways to keep the costs under control. Below are some suggestions for how to throw a successful anniversary party for someone that you love.
Divide and Conquer
The first step is to decide who can chip in with money, and how to delegate the tasks. For our family the daughters and sons took care of the food/bar, cake, DJ, location, while the grandchildren (we are all in our 20s or older) all chipped in for the favors and decorations. After reading through the rest of this article, and getting an idea of what you want the party to be like, sit down with the people who can chip in and figure out a loose budget to work with. Instead of setting a budget, you could also get a commitment from everyone on how much they can contribute, and plan the party from there.
Food for an Army
Perhaps for their actual wedding our grandparents had their food catered, but to save on costs each of my aunts and uncles cooked a dish with enough servings to feed 120+ guests. Two long tables were set up for a buffet, and we borrowed catering heating trays to keep the food warm. Dishes that are inexpensive to make, will fill up a hungry crowd, and just plain taste great, include: macaroni and cheese, meatballs and fresh parmesan cheese for meatball sandwiches, turka cabbasta (okay, that is phonetically spelled; it is a traditional Hungarian dish in my family that is basically pigs in a cabbage blanket with ground up meat, rice, tomato sauce, etc.), potato salad, pasta salad etc.
A three-tiered cake was purchased at a grocery store bakery for a fraction of the cost of a comparable cake from a bakery (and yes, the icing was real and not imitation whipped). A way to save even more money on the cake would have been to get a sheet cake versus the tiered cake.
Decorations on a Budget
The traditional 25th anniversary color is silver, and the traditional 50th anniversary color is gold. Both of these colors are abundant around Christmas time, and thus decorations in these two colors are severely discounted each year in January. We took advantage of an abundance of discounted votive candles, gold pillar candles, gold Christmas balls, gold charger plates, and tulle fabric. The centerpiece for each table was the charger plate with candles, gold balls strung and clustered together then wrapped with tulle fabric to soften the gold color. White plastic tablecloths were purchased at the Dollar Store.
The only flowers that were purchased were the boutonnieres for our grandparents. The morning of the party we went to Wal-Mart and purchased two red roses. Gold leaves were hot glued to the backs of each of the red roses to frame them, and each was pinned onto the guests of honor when they arrived.
Music and Entertainment
In order to keep costs low, a friend of my parents offered to bartend the event, and another friend of my parents offered to play photographer for the night. Even though a DJ was hired, it is also an option to set up an iPod or MP3 player, borrow some speakers or a sound system from someone’s home, and play special music all night long.
We also had two DVDs made from photos  representing 50 years of memories. This movie of photos played on a wall throughout the party. Periodically during the year you can find sales at drugstores such as Walgreens or CVS to make these types of DVDs cheaply. You can collect photos from family members, or snag the photo albums from the couples’ home (like we did). To create a screen, you can tack white sheet paper or even a white sheet onto a wall.
The Thought That Counts
No matter what time, energy, and money you are able to put into this, remember that it is truly the thought that counts. Your friends, parents, grandparents, or other family members will be absolutely surprised and feel loved when they find themselves in a room surrounded by people who want nothing more but to celebrate their love, and the family and lives they have created. Enjoy!